Monday, July 26, 2010

Why the New Jersey Decision is a Good Thing!!!

Earlier today, the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by Lambda Legal about the failure of Civil Unions in the state. To give a brief history, the NJ Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that state discrimination of gay people was unacceptable and that the legislature must enact a measure that would give gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. The Court did not go so far as legalize gay marriage, but allowed the legislature to decide on an action plan to address the issue; the legislature deciding on Civil Unions. Today the NJ Court decided in a 3-3 decision, that they would not hear Lambda Legals case on why Civil Unions are an inferior arrangement to marriage.  Gay Politics has this to say,

 The court, in a 3-3 vote, said, “We reach no conclusion on the merits of the plaintiffs’ allegations regarding the constitutionality of the Civil Union Act,” but added that the suit would need to accumulate a trial record by winding its way through lower courts first.
Though some might think that the court has only prolonged the pain and suffering of gay couples in New Jersey, as Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality stated in the above article, I believe that they are wrong. The Supreme Court did not automatically dismiss the lawsuit, but only said that it needs to be refiled and "accumulate a trial record by going through the lower courts." By having, in the trial record, examples and evidence on why civil unions do not achieve equality, it will give judges and individuals all over the country the tools to abolish Civil Union laws in favor of Marriage laws.

Yes, some will say that because this is not a "Federal Trial" that it will not have the impact that a federal trial would have, with precedence and such. I agree, but by putting "Civil Unions" on trial, we are giving people in every state evidence and the legal history so that they will feel more confident to argue for full Marriage Equality, rather than just partial marriage equality in Civil Unions. Just as the California Proposition 8 case is the "marriage trial", I believe that we can call the future New Jersey case the "Civil Unions trial".

As always, I welcome your comments.

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